Working with Galleries
We're talking about galleries right now. And I decided that we needed an entire segment just on galleries because there's a lot to think about in terms of the relationship between artist and gallery, what galleries expect from an artist, what you wanna have prepared for your gallery, and a whole bunch of things in between that. And I'm very excited about this particular topic because we get to actually speak to one of my gallery representatives today and hear from their perspective what they're looking for from artists, which I think is just really neat to be able to hear about that straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. Not that she's a horse. She is a gallery owner and we're gonna hear it straight from the gallery owner's mouth. And I think it's gonna be really helpful just to get some questions answered and figure everything out. So the first thing that I wanna talk about is artist versus gallery. But not in a combative way, just what you can expect the artist to have to do ve...
rsus what you can expect the gallery to do for the artist. So here we have a few different things. First of all, the artist pays for prints. The artist is the one to go to their printer, give them the file, something comes out of the machine, you pay that person money and then you bring the prints to the gallery. It's really unlikely that the gallery is going to say to the artist, I'll pay for your prints. Because, just as a general standard, those things are separated into artist versus gallery. Galleries don't pay for prints generally speaking. Then we have artist pays for shipping and artist pays for framing. And all of this might be a little bit, I don't know, maybe it's not second nature to you to think that. Maybe you would think that the gallery would have to do that. But the fact is that the artist really has to incur all the costs leading up to the exhibition. So if there's framing to be done, if there's shipping to be done, if there's prints to be made, that's usually the artist's territory. And if it is not, then you have a very special relationship with your gallery. So something to keep in mind before you approach a gallery you'll want to know that you're going to have to incur these costs. Now that's not to say that if you can't incur these costs that you shouldn't ask the gallery what options there are. Because a lot of the times a gallery will work with you to say, okay well if you can't pay for this then I'll help you out with this, maybe we'll split this framing or shipping or something like that. Or just come up with easier ways of doing it. I mentioned earlier that I often say to my galleries, if they want framed prints, I don't have the budget to ship you my framed prints. So can I ship you my flat prints and then you can frame them there? It's a good option. So just something to remember. I just recently had an opening in New York City. And for that opening I had these really large-scale prints and I had to get them from California where I print my work all the way to New York City. And I just kept thinking, wow it's already gonna be very expensive to ship these huge prints whether they're rolled or flat, it's gonna be expensive. So if I have to frame them in California and ship them, it would've been thousands more dollars on my end. So I decided, nope. So I asked my gallery in Mew York City and I said, if I ship these prints straight to the framers can I just deal with them there? Are you okay with that? They said, of course. So that's one option. The artist ensures the delivery of works. So you have to make sure that the art is safely getting from you to the place it's trying to go and that's not something that you can claim that the gallery should've taken care of. That's all on you. The artist earns 50% of the sale price. And I'm not saying that this is standard all across the board. There are certain times when the gallery will take a lot less, or maybe even slightly more. But I would be wary of a gallery who wants to take more than 50% of the sale price. In my experience, galleries are either in a really acceptable range or way off. And then you know that you're kind of getting scammed. So if a gallery comes to you and says, we take 80% of the sale price, I would have a lot of questions regarding what exactly they're doing to earn 80% of the sale price of an image. Typically it's 50/50. And oftentimes less as well. So the gallery will take a smaller percentage depending on the type of gallery it is. For example, if you're just starting out as an artist and you are maybe doing juried shows, you pay to have your work get into those galleries, things like that. They'll often take more like 25% of the sale price because they don't expect to sell a lot of work. So those galleries that take a lot less than 50% are not generally making their money off of their artists. They're making their money off of people paying to come to openings, for example, $5 at the door. Maybe they'll sell alcohol at the event, things like that. They have artists who pay, let's say $25, $50, $ to submit their work for juried shows. And then they keep all the money from the submitted artists and if you get in you get in, and you bring your work for that. So 50% of the sale price. And I believe that this is a really perfect split, not just because it's right down the middle, but because a gallery has a lot to offer an artist and an artist has a lot to offer a gallery. And I think it's important to remember both of those things. That without the artist, the gallery would not exist. They would have no income, nothing. But on the flip side, the gallery is offering a lot to an artist. And some of those things would be promotion of their work, putting their work in magazines, maybe local maybe international, helping to get grants and things like that, depending on the gallery. Galleries will take the work to art fairs, which we discussed earlier the importance of art fairs and how incredibly expensive it is for a gallery to do that. So if I were to just look at one of my galleries and total up in my mind all of the prices that they have to pay to bring me different places and do different things with me. They're probably taking me, let's just say, to one art fair a year that costs $10, for them to get into. So my work is going to one art fair for $10,000. And then they might place ads throughout the year in their local magazines to get people interested in their exhibitions. So that's probably, let's say $2,000 per ad that they're placing in these magazines that are local. So we've got $10,000 for the art fair, we've got maybe let's say $6,000 for ads. And then on top of that they have to rent that space or buy the space that they're showing the work in, which is really expensive in a lot of places. I have a gallery in Laguna Beach and I am sure that that oceanfront property is extremely expensive to rent. And then there I am, their little photographer artist, making almost no money for them in comparison to the painters who are selling their works for $25,000. My price point is way below that. So when I think about all they're doing for me, it's a pretty fair split in my estimation. And the thing is that you have to feel that way too. You have to feel like your relationship is an equal split. And sometimes it's not. Sometimes the gallery won't keep up their end of the bargain and you sometimes come out of it with a bad deal. But the good thing is that we have contracts for these things and you can write into a contract and say, you know what I need you to advertise three times a year for me in some magazine. Or maybe your contract is that you have to have a certain number of exhibitions per year with you. Otherwise it's not worth it to have any exclusivity with that gallery. But we'll talk about that in a second because that's getting a little bit ahead. So first of all, the gallery pays for the gallery space. Always true, unless the artist is paying to hang their work on the wall. In which case you might consider that the artist really is helping to pay for their gallery space. Galleries pay for advertising, always good to remember. They pay for art fairs. The gallery insures the prints. So when the prints are in their space, those prints are insured. I had a gallery once where they had flooding and they had to make sure that all their prints were insured because there were some that were sitting on the floor in the back room, for example. So that's up to the gallery to make sure that everything is good. And then they earn 50%, which is pretty easy math.